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Warwickshire Hunt defend its activities as anti-blood sport campaigners say the hunt has been responsible for a number of kills recently



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Over the past few months, the Herald has reported on the Warwickshire Hunt’s activities, including the trail hunts which have ended with the death of foxes. We asked a spokesperson for the hunt to explain why hunting should be allowed to continue and what it means to south Warwickshire’s rural communities. We also report on the latest animal deaths filmed by the anti-hunt saboteurs.

The story as it appeared in the Herald, 6th January 2022 (54460086)
The story as it appeared in the Herald, 6th January 2022 (54460086)

THE HUNT VIEW

Boxing Day hunt meets, like this year’s one at the Upton Estate with Warwickshire Hunt pictured here, take place across the UK.

They are firmly in many people’s diaries as an annual event they look forward

to, with many structuring their Christmas schedules around it.

Boxing Day hunt scene where the Warwickshire Hunt met on the Upton Estate on the Warwickshire/Oxfordshire border on Boxing Day. Photo: Mark Williamson U6/12/21/0027. (53963665)
Boxing Day hunt scene where the Warwickshire Hunt met on the Upton Estate on the Warwickshire/Oxfordshire border on Boxing Day. Photo: Mark Williamson U6/12/21/0027. (53963665)

Supporters attend as couples, singles or with their families and children having spent Christmas together. Every year some 250,000 attend these festive meets across the country, albeit this time numbers will have been lower given the current situation.

At the Warwickshire Hunt’s meet a large crowd gathered safely in a wide, open space to cheer the hunt in a real atmosphere of genuine support and excitement.

When asked why they attend some say they like to see it and others that it’s part of the countryside and one of our celebrated traditions. There is also a tangible sense that the crowd endorses hunting and the rural community, as both are increasingly under threat.

The rural community and its economy rely hugely on income and jobs generated by both farming and country sports.

Boxing Day hunt scene where the Warwickshire Hunt met on the Upton Estate on the Warwickshire/Oxfordshire border on Boxing Day. Photo: Mark Williamson U6/12/21/0019. (53963685)
Boxing Day hunt scene where the Warwickshire Hunt met on the Upton Estate on the Warwickshire/Oxfordshire border on Boxing Day. Photo: Mark Williamson U6/12/21/0019. (53963685)

Hunting and shooting play an important role with local participants and visitors supporting craftspeople, local trades, pubs, hotels, and many other related businesses.

These activities also have a positive impact on wildlife management, conservation projects and access to the countryside. Other increasingly important benefits include social cohesion, personal well-being and fitness, both physical and mental.

Hunting is enjoyed on horses, from cars, by those wishing to walk or to run and even a few on cross-country mountain bikes. All this is made possible by the hunt’s relationship with farmers and landowners who generously grant access to their land.

The hunt also runs a membership club open to everyone. This club organises social and charitable events supporting the local community.

The cross section of society at our Boxing Day 2021 meet was evidence of the importance of hunting and the countryside to the lives of all those there.

Many came for the day out, as some do regularly to get away from the pressures of life, to meet socially and to enjoy an event with friends, family and like-minded people all to endorse something traditional and inclusive in a modern world.

As the hunt left there was spontaneous applause and shouts of “see you next year!”

THE ANTI-FOX HUNT VIEW

Despite the festive spirit of the Warwickshire Hunt’s Boxing Day meet, just two days later the group were again mired in controversy when they looked to be involved in the killing of two wild animals.

As reported previously in the Herald, two foxes were killed in September and early December – incidences which Warwickshire Hunt described as “accidental” during a legal trail hunt.

The incident on 30th December where the hunt appeared to be involved with another grisly kill in Napton-on-the-Hill.
The incident on 30th December where the hunt appeared to be involved with another grisly kill in Napton-on-the-Hill.

Documentary footage filmed by members of West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs on 28th December appears to show hounds chasing and then savaging a small deer during activities by Warwickshire Hunt near Preston-on-Stour.

At first, two or three hounds are seen pursuing the deer over a ploughed field before it is brought down and killed. The rest of the pack, around 16 dogs, then swarm round taking chunks of flesh away in their mouths.

Eventually a man on a quad bike arrives, he looks round as he takes off his coat and wraps the deer carcass in it before disappearing with it.

Two days on from this incident, on 30th December, the hunt appeared to be involved with another grisly kill in Napton-on-the-Hill when WMHS shared video of a pack of hounds tearing a fox apart.

One of the dogs can then be seen running off with the lifeless fox as men on a quad bike and horseback follow it into the bushes.

According to WMHS, this harrowing scene took place in front of children on ponies who had joined the adult riders.

A deer is killed by hounds on 28th December.
A deer is killed by hounds on 28th December.

A spokesperson WMHS said: “Serious questions need to be asked of the hunt. When asked by the press for a response about previous killings they always claim it was an unavoidable ‘accident’. How many more unavoidable ‘accidents’ are they going to have before the end of the season?

“It’s clear to anyone that the Warwickshire Hunt hounds are completely out of control, killing anything that moves. If we are to believe the hunt that it is unavoidable then no wildlife is safe as long as their hounds are on the loose in the countryside.

“The only conclusion to be drawn is that Warwickshire Hunt need to stop taking their hounds out into the countryside as this is surely the only way to avoid our wildlife being killed.”

Warwickshire Hunt said this week any evidence of illegality should be taken to the police with whom they pledged to cooperate fully.



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